20 Jan Bangkok Post : Freebird
COME FOR THE AMBIENCE, STAY FOR THE FOOD
Funky Freebird’s eclectic offerings delight all the senses
If I were to come up with just three words to describe Freebird, a brand-new restaurant opened a few weeks ago in the Sukhumvit area, “funky”, “diverse” and “umami” would be my choices.
Freebird is the love child of Melbourne-born chef Dallas Cuddy, New York architect Alan Barr and Singapore-based coffee roaster and entrepreneur Benjamin Lee. The 65-seat eatery has victoriously kicked off in Bangkok’s fast-evolving gastronomic scene with its modern Australian cuisine offering amid a swanky, Nordic-accented setting.
Equipped with a lovely little garden and courtyard, the restaurant occupies a residential house that’s been revamped to blend a modern industrial vibe with a sense of home. Spaces are designed and utilised smartly to pay harmonious tribute to originality.
When it comes to the matter of food, executive chef Cuddy said during my recent dinner visit that the closest definition of modern Australian cuisine might be clean and light-texture European fare prepared with high-quality, seasonal ingredients and a touch of Asian influence. His cooking, which reflects his travelling experience, particularly focuses on three elements — taste, temperature and texture.
My two dining companions and I were treated to a complementary platter of bread and house-made butter (one of the most delectable gourmet butter I’ve had in years) followed by the amuse-Bouche of the day upon seating.
For dinner, guests may choose to go à la cart or settle for “a Taste of Freebird”, the multi-course degustation menu designed to take diners on a culinary journey through the chef’s various original creations (roughly, six savoury dishes and two desserts). Price is 1,750 baht per person.
Nothing would kick off an evening more ideally than a gob of freshly-shucked oysters (and of course, a glass of Champagne). Hence perfecting our dinner were Kumamoto oysters with kombu-infused vinegar and green apple bits (150 baht each).
The sumptuous starter was followed by a plate of pastoral-looking flaxseed crackers with rich uni cream, a blend of organic sea urchin and Parmesan cheese, and fresh sea grapes garnish (150 baht) that proved to offer as luxurious a mouthfeel as a first-class culinary did.
Should you be a fan of foie gras and cream pastry, Cuddy’s duck liver parfait profiterole with truffle honey and macadamia milk (130 baht each) promises to delight you in all extents.
But if you’re in for something light, sour and refreshing, I highly recommend that you try shaved squid with oyster cream, cucumber juice and seaweed butter (290 baht). The gummy soft squid, cut thinly to resemble noodle and dressed with butter, was lent a great flavour enhancement by yuzu kosho (Japanese spicy citrus powder), the oyster cream and a dash of fresh herbs.
I found the fresh ricotta cavatelli with roasted and raw beetroot, marjoram and whey (350 baht), which arrived next, a brilliant entrée option. The oblong-shaped pasta made with ricotta cheese yielded a toothsome delight, while giving a light and balancing contrast to the rather heavy pasta and whey sauce (this case it’s a by-product from making ricotta cheese) were an earthy crunch from Chioggia beet and a herbal and citrusy touch from marjoram.
Basically what we were experiencing throughout the first half of the meal was a string of new and exciting flavour profiles that at the same time were very comforting.
Unlike many wannabe-funky chefs whose formulations of tastes tend to confuse rather than console, Cuddy proved his culinary dexterity through well-crafted simplicity that came with a subtlety of taste (umami).
For main course, therefore, you wouldn’t regret having his simply-presented pan-fried ocean trout (1,600 baht for a 600g sharing portion) accompanied by a generous serving of mussel escabeche was a wonderful choice.
A sizeable fillet of the Pacific trout showcased its glossy orangish-pink meat underneath its charred, wakame butter-rubbed skin. In each sumptuous bite the fish provided to my palate lied a combination of a delicate natural taste and comforting textures finished with a smoky charred whiff.
We felt the heavenly fish could have made up a perfect complete dish by itself. That was even without the equally tasty escabeche, featuring New Zealand mussels and onions in a refreshingly sour marinade garnished with Avruga caviar.
Slow-cooked kurobuta pork collar with pistachio, green olive purée and fennel (450 baht), which followed, promises to take pork aficionados to culinary cloud nine. The pork, served in thick firm slices, exhibited impressively supple meat that went well with the nutty tangy olive cream and mildly sweet gravy.
Out of four desert choices that day, my most favourite was blackberry ice cream with candied buckwheat, vanilla cream and meringue (320 baht). It lusciously portrayed the fruit in various dimensions and proved an ideal option for diners who prefer a familiarly soothing taste profile of a cheesecake.
My two friends, quite senior and old-school, fell in love with the chef’s innovative take on an old-fashioned Thai sweet, tang Thai nam kathi.
Listed on the menu as lime-leaf posset with whipped coconut, honeydew melon and elderflower (300 baht), the platter basically featured fresh melon pearls complemented by mousse-like coconut cream and coconut flakes, hairy basil seeds and fragrant floral finish.
The last dessert, peach tart with ginger sorbet and pumpkin seed crumble (320 baht), offered a better thrill to the eyes than it did the taste buds, unfortunately. The blame was on the starchy crust of the tart, and not the perfect mouthfeel of the baked peach topping nor the marvellous beer-based sorbet.
Flawlessly complementing our meal was “sommasake” (wordplay integration of sommelier, omakase and sake), of which the restaurant’s Australian manager and wine sommelier, Marcus Boyle, smartly matched a selection of wine, sake and cider, with the food. Prices are 850 baht per person for three courses, 1,500 baht for five courses and 2,000 baht for seven courses.
For cocktail buffs, there’s an impressive variety of signature concoctions to suit different preferences, including non-alcoholic choices. While coffee-addicts can always wrap up the evening with a cup of coffee by Sarnies Cafe, Freebird’s sister joint located at the front of the premises and with its own official opening hours of 8am-5pm.
Service was executed with top-class dexterity and friendly sincerity. Reservations are recommended.
Sukhumvit 47 Call 02-662-4936 Open daily 5.30pm till late Park on the premises Most credit cards accepted